As much as we like to pretend to be above such things our psychology proves that time and time again at our base programming we are pack animals. That does not mean we are slaves to these impulses. We are still creatures of reason. It just means it is just as unwise to ignore that these impulses exist as it is to constantly give into them. That means that we tend to organize ourselves into hierarchical groups whenever we are around each other be it adding a new friend to a circle of buddies or a new coworker at the office. Families tend to be a little more subtle about this power dynamic but mostly because such jockeying within the food chain of a household tends to be either instantly determined by birth or build up over the years. The only real exception to that rule is when a new family member is added to the mix. This is one of the few times a person can earn or lose their place in the household so quickly.
As the newly adopted daughter of the von Einzbern family Chloe has one chance to determine who is boss. She clearly can’t overtake Irisviel. Humans can not pass into the realm of the gods. Kiritsugu is just too much of a stone cold bad ass for the discount Archer to overtake so him so the only point of entry on the top is to try to sneak in above Illya.
Who will be on top when the dust settles? Will Shiro always be the bottom of the totem pole? (Spoilers: yes.)
Chloe is making her self at home now that she is officially a member of the Einzbern family. That means “quality time” with Shiro when she can get it (she really is the girl who was supposed to go on to be the Illya of Fate/Stay Night). If the current Illya wishes to keep some semblance of peace she has got to be prepared to prevent Chloe from usurping her. But in this respect Chloe might even be a more formidable opponent than when she was just trying to kill Illya.
Now that Chloe can sleep in the the same house as Shiro you know the opening scene was destined to happen. As a good human being I chose not use use the opening crotch shot as the picture for the episode. If you REALLY want to see that I’m sure every other review of the episode uses it as the first photo. This is not a harem show but Shiro is punished for his existence as if it were. (Or at least it is not a harem show with a guy at its center. Illya might be the center of lesbian harem.)
Despite the standard “slap the guy for his clueless behavior” Illya knows that this means war. Chloe is clearly her doppelganger in affairs of the heart as well. If she is not careful Chloe just might steal Shiro away from her (because no one is worried about this iteration of Rin and Luvia). Clearly the only way to determine who will steal Shiro’s heart is by being the one who can win over his stomach. So begins the classic cooking contest. Who ever can make the best pound cake in home economics will get a kiss from nii-san.
Immediately Chloe proves that she is playing to win. While she has Miyu and Mimi on her team (aka the only ones who count) and it seems that Illya only has the dead weight (aka Suzuhana, Nanaki, and Tatsuko). Then even point out that Tatsuko is not even just a useless member is actually counts as -1 members because she is that much of a dead weight. In the end is goes exactly like you would expect it to. Mimi does a perfect job, Miyu is off in her own little world doing her own thing, Nanaki is a neutral element, Suzuhana is textbook good but practically incompetent, and Tatsuko makes sure that after she dies she can be summoned as a Chaotic Insane hero.
While Team Competent breezes through their task it seems like Team Underdog has a chance until the Master of Disaster throws in some nutmeg. (You silly goose it takes MUCH more nutmeg to get high). At first all seems lost, but after tying up Lady Unluck the team tries to recover with a gambit to turn the standard pound cake into a chocolate fruit cake surprise. Of course Tatsuko proves to be a Harry Houdini when she needs to be and ruins everything with mints.
They really should stop being friends with her.
So it is time for the boy who would later go on to be the Knight of the Kitchen to do his best Chairman Kaga impression. He quickly sees through Chloe’s deception. While her pound cake is excellently made it was clearly not made by Chloe. That is some Sherlockian food detective work there Shiro. On the other hand while Illya’s cake is awful it was clearly made with love. Therefore she wins the kiss.
And then Shiro is punished becuase he is Shiro.
Also if the music seems familiar again that is because the song playing in Shiro flashback is Ever-present Feeling. That is a surprisingly good choice of legacy music despite of trivial the scene may seem. Ever-present Feeling is the music that Fate/Stay Night uses whenever anyone has a flashback especially to any scene with a great amount of emotional weight. So a flash back to Shiro’s time when he was a lousy cook seems like a good time to whip out that song.
This song also reminded me that I might not be able to pick up on any of the musical selections from Fate/Hollow Ataraxia. Any songs linked to Avenger, Bazett, and Caren will probably fly right past me as the OST fro the sequel game is mostly unknown to me. Hopefully the translation will be done soon so I can remedy that deficiency in my knowledge of Type-Moon music.
Illya may have won the kiss but that was more a single battle in the much larger war to determine who is in charge. A squabble over the diner table convinces Illya that if god tier Irisviel will not make a ruling on who is the older sister then she has to establish dominance over the wild child that is Chloe. If not she will be dancing to the tune of her dark-skinned clone sooner rather than later.
It is on like Donkey Kong.
If you don’t know who all the people in the scene in the picture above are that is not totally unexpected. They are an eclectic mixture of Type-Moon big sisters. The first person is probably the easiest to recognize. The master maid and mad scientist Kohaku should be familiar if for nothing else she is also the voice of Magical Ruby. As I mentioned before that is the source of the in joke with Sapphire, much like Hisui, being the younger sister to Ruby. The next two are Stheno and Euryale who are Rider’s older sisters. They mostly only appear in Fate/Hollow Ataraxia so they probably the most obscure of the four. And last but not least is Touko Aozaki. If you have just seen Kara no Kyoukai it is easy to be unaware that she is the older sister of Miss Blue (or that Touko used to have blue hair.)
All three older sisters are clearly the ones in charge albeit Kohaku is the only big sister of the four of them that is in any way a benevolent older sibling (at least when it comes to her younger sister).
As Illya and Chloe battle for dominance the fact that Illya’s birthday comes up again. As the gang (and Hiroshi Hiroyama) REALLY want to use it as an excuse to go to the beach so they reaffirm that their summer plans are still on. At that point both Chloe and Miyu mention that they too were born on July 20th. This only makes the Gang of Four even more excited. But Illya is even more concerned. Chole is co-opting her birthday and her birthday festivities. She needs an emergency plan to take the place as older sister or she is clearly going to lose it.
Sadly so goes to the Gang of Four for advice. You think Sella or Leysritt would be a better choice for advice but I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures. As each of the Gang of Four has siblings she hopes to learn how to be an older sister from these chuckle-heads. As with the cake each of them has some bit of advice that reflects their soul. Suzuhana just knows that her older sister is a slave driver who occasionally shows small acts of kindness. It is also clear that she is a doujinshi artist and given Suzuhana’s tastes she is clearly of the BL variety. Nanaki continues to be a neutral element. While she has an older sister she can’t really quantify what makes her so elegant other than cool hair. If you have read ahead in the manga you know that the poor graceful older sister is in for some trauma involving some former magical girls. One with twin-tails and one with blonde drill curls. Mimi being the older sister does not really know how she does it. She only knows that little brothers wish to protect older sisters.
I will say the shota fetishization of Mimi’s little brother is a bit … creepy. Not that worse than anything that has come before it but I feel I should point out they went in a new direction with that.
Tatsuko is just useless. Oh, and her advice isn’t any good either.
Of course Illya only takes the dumbest parts of the advice in the worst possible way making her into the soda spewing mentally ill tsundere Bride of Frankenstein. This only erodes her standing more than anything else. Should have just gone to momma for advice.
Still probably better than going to Ruby. Going to Kohaku for advice, and not being named Hisui, is probably a bad idea.
In the end when they are alone Chloe does show a bit of her vulnerable side we have not seen since she was formally added to the family. She finally thanks Illya for what she has done for her. It would have been all to easy to just let a problem like Chloe disappear. But Illya would not let her soul sister fade like that. Also Chloe still needs the occasional make out for mana to live so she asks for Illya’s cooperation in the future. In many ways Chloe is going to be dependent on Illya so a lot of her earlier bravado is just to cover up the fact that she is in debt to Illya.
If Illya were smarter she would realize that this means she was won right from the start. But instead she remembers the Gang of Four’s advice about pudding and undermines everything. The eavesdropping Sella will have her work cut out for her in the future because Irisviel does not seem like much help on this front.
Yes! Yes! Yes! SHE is coming. The next episode is going to be SO GOOD.
Next week cannot come fast enough. All of this is just the calm before the wonderful storm. There is going to be some hot Fragarach action next week.